“If a picture is worth a thousand words, visual search—the ability to use an image to search for other identical or related visual asset—is worth thousands of spot-on searches—and thousands of minutes saved on dead-end queries,” says Brett Butterfield in his Adobe blog See It, Search It, Shop It: How AI is Powering Visual Search.

Just one in three Google searches, for example, leads to a click — and these people come to the table with at least a sense of what they’re searching for…Like text-based search, visual search interprets and understands a user’s input — images, in this case — and delivers the most relevant search results possible. We believe that visual search can become a big part of a buyer’s shopping future. With visual search, a potential buyer doesn’t need to try and guess the brand, style, and/or retail outlet something was purchased on, the buyer can simply snap a picture of the item she likes, upload the image, and immediately find exactly the same item or ones like them, and purchase them directly from the site where they are sold, all incredibly seamlessly.

Like text-based search, visual search interprets and understands a user’s input — images, in this case — and delivers the most relevant search results possible. However, instead of forcing people to think like computers, which is how the typical text search works, visual search flips the script. Powered by AI, the machine sees, interprets, and takes the visual cues it learns from people. After applying metadata to the image, AI-powered visual search systems can dig through and retrieve relevant results based on visual similarities, such as color and composition. Visual search is another technology that can facilitate better, more frictionless retail experiences that can help buyers find what they want faster.   

In delivering such a simple, seamless experience, AI-powered visual search removes the friction from traditional search-and-shop experiences. No longer do customers have to visit multiple retailers or sites and strike out. They can now find virtually anything, anywhere, even without knowing exactly where to find it. This is another important moment for marketers because if brands invest in visual search, they can propel their brand up the Google rankings and get a solid leg up on their competition.  To get started with image search, brands should focus on solving customer problems and getting their own visual assets in order. They shouldn’t try to make their visual search workflows all about advertising. Instead, brands should aim to have solid metadata on products so that searching is easier and more natural. From there, brands should work towards visual search processes that are real time and increasingly intuitive, creating a positive customer experience that keeps people coming back.